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Wednesday 24 June 2015

‘Helsinki Noir’ edited by James Thompson

Published by Akashic,
20 Niovember 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-6177-5241-4

This is a collection of fourteen stories in the popular noir series – all set, this time, in and around Helsinki. They give a vivid picture of modern city Finland: the bourgeois houses and moneyed lifestyle of the south, in the stories of a spoiled rich girl whose murderous plan backfires (The Silent Woman), a damaged woman’s envy of  another’s blogged life (Stolen Lives), and shark eating shark on the stock exchange (The Broker); these contrast with the housing estates and deprivation of the north (Jenkem), the growing problem of drugs (the beautifully Gothic The Hand of Ai), and the immigration and abuse of vulnerable women (Little Black). There’s humour with the feisty woman PI of Kiss of Santa, classic PP puzzles with the Christmas eve Silent Night and the macabre Snowy Sarcophagus, and a percipient twist on domestic abuse with Good Intentions. Every story is atmospheric, we meet a variety of sympathetic and less-than-sympathetic narrators (the fascist security guard of Hard Rain definitely leaps to mind here), and every one has a neat sting at the end. As far as noir goes, they range from dark grey to best Gothic territory.

The best and blackest in the noir series yet, and a treat for short story fans.
Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

James Thompson (1964–2014) lived in Finland for over fifteen years and was one of the most popular representatives of Nordic noir, with his work being published in a dozen countries. His novel Snow Angels, the first book in his acclaimed Kari Vaara series, was one of Booklist's Best Crime Novel Debuts of the Year and was nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Strand Critics awards. Kirkus selected Lucifer's Tears, the second book in the series, as one of the best books of 2011. G.P. Putnam's Sons will release Helsinki Dead, the fifth installment in the series, in 2014. Jim was a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books and held a master's degree from the University of Helsinki. He was the editor of Helsinki Noir.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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